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"In the midst"
In the gospel of John we are told of two occasions when, after his resurrection, closed doors proved no barrier to Jesus. On the second occasion, Thomas, the doubter, was with the other disciples. We read in John, "Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you."
We are sometimes discouraged by the indifference or fear which shuts the door against the message of Christian Science. We are burdened with an ineffectual longing to help; with a feeling that we could do so much for some one who is suffering in mind or body, if only the bigoted prejudice of relatives did not bar the way. We feel thwarted in usefulness, perhaps, because Christian Science treatment can be neither openly forced upon those who are unready for it, nor secretly practiced upon those who are ignorant of what we are doing. At such moments when we are tempted to fret because what we could give finds no entrance, it is worth while to consider what the demonstration of Jesus just referred to may mean for us, if spiritually interpreted.
In the Glossary in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy (p. 593) "resurrection" is referred to as "spiritualization of thought." It is clear that if we are to learn from Jesus' example, we must first have part in this resurrection. This spiritualization is not an intellectual process; it is the unfoldment of Love to consciousness; and unselfed love is its manifestation.
Jesus, standing "in the midst," in the dignity of holy calm, made no effort to impress the beholders with his power. His quiet words brought peace. He had not knocked. He did not say, See what I can do. He did not upbraid the disciples for having the doors shut, though had their spiritual faith and expectation been stronger than their fear they might have left them open. He simply made his own demonstration of reaching "the midst," and was free to express the love with which his God-filled consciousness was overflowing.
It was Love which brought Jesus into the midst. Interpreted literally, "in the midst" here means into the company of the disciples, within sight of their eyes, in the place where his presence could meet their human sense of need. But he could never have come there had he not first demonstrated the understanding of man's real place,—within the Father's house. To spiritual sense, which was so much more real to Jesus than any temporal sense, "the midst" was not here or there, was not in any human circle, or on one or the other side of a closed door. He had gained "these clearer, higher views," which "inspire the Godlike man to reach the absolute centre and circumference of his being" (Science and Health, p. 262). "The absolute centre"! Dwelling there "in the secret place of the most High," Jesus, "crowned with glory," manifested "the ever-presence that neither comes nor goes," as Mrs. Eddy says on page 62 of "Unity of Good."
We cannot be "in the midst" if we are self-centered. We should consider more earnestly whether it is not our own selfhood, not the selfhood of others, which is the obstruction to our activity. Small wonder that nobody wants us if it is this material "I" which seeks to be in the midst of the religious arena, or to elbow its way to the bedside of the sick! Still less can we keep at home out of self-complacence, timidity, fear of criticism, or indifference to others, and expect to manifest unity with God.
An article in The Christian Science Journal some time ago began with this sentence: "The door of demonstration is never bolted or barred." If to be "in the midst" means to enter into the consciousness of Truth, Life, and Love, then certainly our chief concern must be to get there and abide; for that is the place where our best, our only real work, can be done. Being there, we cannot be unused. "And the work of righteousness shall be peace." These words from Revelation are eternally true: "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."
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